*Transitional* 1977 Rolex Double Red Sea-Dweller (Ref. 1665) "Mk. IV" W/ Box & Papers
(Co-Branded DRSD Comex/Rolex AD c. 1970's)
In the early part of the 1960s deep-sea diving and in particular, mixed-gas diving was advancing. The Submariner became the quintessential diver born out of the late 1950s, with its iconic design which set the standard for almost all dive watches to come thereafter its launch in 1953. The Rolex SeaDweller was born in the 1960s out of the collaboration with COMEX a French deep-sea diving company. Comex is sometimes referred to as the NASA of the deep seas and was the pioneer in mixed gas diving.
In typical Rolex fashion meaning form following function, most of the SeaDwellers design was born out of the need to comply with the commercial ISO 6425 diving standard, which defines test standards and features for watches suitable for diving with underwater breathing apparatus in depths of 100 m (330 ft) or more.
Saturation diving requires the use of helium in the breathing gas mixture, and helium particles would accumulate within the case of a diving watch during prolonged exposure meaning long deep dives and or at depths greater than 200 meters/660 feet where mixed brining gas was essential. During the early days of deep saturation diving, a strange phenomenon was arising during the decompression of these dives in which the pressure inside the watch would build as a result of helium gas being trapped in the cases of the watches that were being used. The weakest point of the watch at the time was the crystal and upon decompression from the dives, the helium gas would expand, ejecting the plexiglass crystal as that helium gas forced its way outward. Being that watches back then were crucial tools for timing decompression and other important events this was a major flaw that needed to be fixed. Rolex developed a rather simple and practical mechanism to solve this issue by developing a helium escape valve on the side of the case that allowed the helium particles to escape while still maintaining an ISO 6425 diving standard and water resistance rating.
(Founder Of COMEX, Henri Delauze c. 1970)
The new model of Submariner was created was dubbed the reference 1665, based on the existing Submariner model with some major upgrades. Initial prototype models were exclusively issued to DeepSea Explorers of the 1960s in various configurations but in the late 1960 and early 1970s, the model made it to the Rolex retail stores. The Double Red Sea-Dweller (DRSD) was produced for approximately 10 yrs starting in 1967 to 1978 with serial number range 1.7 to 5.2 million. There were four different dial variations made in the regular production model with three different case back configurations. Post 5.2 million serial number ref. 1665 Sea-Dwellers can be seen only bearing white text and have earned the nickname, "great white" Sea-Dweller.
The Sea-Dweller is undoubtedly the most advanced amongst the diving watches of its time. Featuring a bidirectional bezel, a tropic super domed bezel to withstand greater pressure, and date a complication. Fully certified and guaranteed waterproof to 2000ft - 610m.
The Mk. IV Double Red Seadweller dial possesses the following key characteristics
- Closed 6's in the depth rating
- The top line of red text (Sea-Dweller) is much larger than the bottom line of red text
- The coronet is large with clearly defined spikes and the opening of the coronet is large.
This exceptional and complete ref. 1665 is an extremely transitional example and is best known as being the very last series of the double red dial ever produced by Rolex. Featuring a correct serial number of 5.2mil, this transitional piece sets itself apart with "round text" displayed on the case back which is almost exclusively seen in the later "Great White" ref. 1665 Sea-Dwellers.
|Dial||Black Matte "Mk. IV"|
|Bracelet||Rolex 93150 Oyster "Patented" Bracelet W/ 585 End Pieces|
The impressive Sea-Dweller case retains extremely thick and minimally polished lugs that still exhibit subtle chamfers and show light signs of honest use. The original "fat-font" bezel insert has achieved a lovely dark grey fade and is exceptionally well-preserved displaying almost no signs of use and retaining its tritium pearl at the 12 o'clock position. The original t39 super dome crystal features only minimal signs of previous use. The serial number is correctly inscribed on the inside of the rare and transitional "round" case back. The original Rolex 93150 Oyster bracelet retains its correct and original "Patented" diver's extension as well as its original 585 end pieces. The bracelet retains 11 links that show almost no stretch from use.
The beautifully preserved Mk. IV "DRSD" dial is in near perfect vintage condition, there is a small surface mark to the bottom right on the hand stack, though it is extremely hard to see with the naked eye. The outer minute track shows practically no chipping which is normally very common in these dials. The lume plots have aged to a wonderful creamy patina and show no degradation when inspected under U.V. light. The original tritium hands match the dial perfectly and display no lume loss or degradation when inspected under U.V. light. The metallic wheel is original with open 6's and 9's, it is correct for the "6" in "26" to be closed in this era.
The watch comes complete with its original inner and outer Rolex boxes, Rolex guarantee paper, booklets, and serialized green Rolex wallet. The watch just received a full service and is keeping time perfectly, backed by a 1-year warranty on accurate timekeeping.